Why transit access can be unsafe for deaf and blind passengers

  • Date: 12/06/2021

Lynn Chase sweeps the cane in a wide arc across the ground, searching for her next clue. Swish, swish; the cane cuts through air. Tap, tap; the white end smacks against a concrete edge. It's Chase’s cue to turn 90 degrees left, take a few steps and slowly reach out her hand to feel for a railing. Grasping it, she starts down the stairs and out of the Northgate light rail station.

Chase repeats the circuit several more times — from the train platform to the exit and bus stop — as David Miller, an orientation and mobility specialist for people who are deaf-blind, closely watches nearby.

With the opening of the Northgate light rail extension in October, Chase was one of thousands learning new routes as transit agencies reworked bus lines. King County Metro Transit eliminated the bus route she rode for years to her job in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood, now that light rail trains offer a more reliable journey through downtown Seattle.

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